BGMI ban: Esports industry will reset post BGMI ban, says Rooter founder Piyush Kumar

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The esports industry will once again have to reset following the recent ban on Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), the most popular mobile game in the country, said Piyush Kumar, founder and chief executive of Rooter, one of India’s leading game streaming platforms.

A few tournaments, including the second season of the Esports Premier League, have been postponed indefinitely after the government banned BGMI last month.

A lot of esports activities were centred on the game, which was launched after the earlier ban on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).

“A lot of tournaments and platforms focused only on BGMI,” Kumar said. “So, everybody who was centred on BGMI will have to rework, but gaming is here to stay. Gamers will move on to other games quickly, which we learned after the government banned PUBG … If you ask me, we aren’t worried as only 30-35% streams on Rooter are of BGMI. We wish it didn’t happen, but now that it has, we hope it comes back.”

Last month, the government asked both Google and Apple to remove BGMI from their app stores, without releasing any official statement as to why the game was banned in India.

Talking about Rooter, which raised $25 million in its series-A funding round led by Lightbox, March Gaming and Duane Park Ventures in January this year, Kumar said the company was witnessing “healthy growth” and was on track to achieve its targets.

“We are clocking 3-4 million downloads a month and have a wide variety of game streamers. From $5 million ARR (annual recurring revenue) at present, we are on track to reach $10 million ARR by October 2022. Our monthly active users have gone up 59% in Q2 this year to 15.2 million, while ARPU (average revenue per user) has gone up 24% in the last two months,” he said. Its ARPU at the end of the June quarter was Rs 3.10.

Rooter, which started monetising game streaming last year, is one of the very few companies in the sector to do so. Its revenue was up 83% quarter-on-quarter in the April-June period, Kumar said, without disclosing the actual revenue.

More than 100 brands advertise on the platform every month, including Intel, Flipkart, HP and Pizza Hut, he said.

“We want to be very transparent and put out in public that gaming is a monetisable industry. After raising funds, we have committed Rs 100 crore in partnerships, improved product and hired a great sales team. In the second quarter of this year, our revenue has grown 6X,” Kumar said. “We have opened multiple channels of revenues and are looking at further disrupting the market.”

Last year, Rooter had enabled gifting for its users. In the last six months, average gifting value has increased from Rs 5.70 to Rs 9.70.

Top esports team players and creators are getting gifts worth Rs 17 in one transaction per user.

Rooter has done exclusive partnerships with 11 tier-1 teams, including GodLike, Orangutan, OR Esports, Chemin, Rivalry, PVS and Nox Official.

Going ahead, Rooter will focus on short form — 30-60 seconds videos — which the company feels will increase engagement levels.

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